Tuesday, September 08, 2009
European Court ruling favors gambling monopolies

In a long awaited ruling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) reconfirmed that imposing restrictions on online gambling operators in order, for example, to fight fraud and crime is compatible with European Union principles of the freedom to provide services.

Austrian online operator and the Portuguese domestic football league were fined for promoting betting services to Portuguese citizen, which is against the national law that maintains a monopoly. In the following legal procedings, the European Court of Justice was asked for a ruling. It released its ruling today, stipulating:

  • Restrictions to providing gambling services are conform EU law,if they aim for example to combat fraud.
  • Giving exclusive rights to operate gambling is conform EU law.
  • An online gaming operating license from one EU member state does not have to be accepted by another EU member state
  • Online betting create greater risks for fraud to sports organisors and there is an increased risks with operators that have a commercial interest in the outcome of a game, i.e. bookmakers

    This ruling kills the chances of any operator that aims to open up markets on the basis of the European Treaty and its provisions of free movement of services. Future legal proceedings are likely only going to test whether parts of national systems conform principles of proportionality or non-discrimination.